Vendors assemble for ninth annual IHE Connectathon

January 17, 2007

This week, 77 vendors with over 120 healthcare-related applications are assembling under one roof for the ninth annual cable-pulling exercise called the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Connectathon.

This week, 77 vendors with over 120 healthcare-related applications are assembling under one roof for the ninth annual cable-pulling exercise called the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Connectathon.

The purpose of the Connectathon is to test how well proprietary healthcare applications share patient information among a minimum of three peers, even, or especially, if these peers might be competitors.

One emphasis of this year's gathering is on a family of IHE integration profiles that facilitate RHIO (regional health information organization) or HIE (health information exchange) deployments, according to IHE director Didi Davis.

XDS (cross-enterprise document sharing) is one family of profiles that will be tested to facilitate RHIO and HIE deployments. This family includes XDS-I (cross-enterprise document sharing for imaging integration profile), which specifies actors and transactions that allow users to share information such as imaging studies and radiology reports across enterprises.

"The Connectathon tests IHE profiles from all domains for all workflows," Davis said. "We have profiles from all eight of the domains being tested, so I would not say there is a particular focus on any one profile."

More broadly, Davis said the focus this year is the same as it has been the previous eight years of the Connectathon: to facilitate vendor testing of the IHE frameworks and integration profiles.

"The event is important because it represents the largest healthcare IT industry testing event facilitated by sponsors of IHE," she said. "It fits into the bigger IHE picture."

The Connectathon - the largest healthcare IT industry testing event - is a unique opportunity for healthcare IT vendors and end users to cooperate in breaking down interoperability barriers that historically have prevented proprietary systems from sharing patient data within and across hospitals and healthcare systems.

The Connectathon is the third step in the overall IHE process:

  • Identify interoperability problems. Clinicians and IT experts work to identify common interoperability problems with information access, clinical workflow, administration, and the underlying infrastructure.

  • Specify integration profiles. Experienced healthcare IT professionals identify relevant standards and define how to apply them to address interoperability problems, documenting them in the form of IHE integration profiles.

  • Test systems at the Connectathon. Vendors implement IHE integration profiles in their products and test their systems for interoperability.

  • Publish integration statements for use in requests for proposal. Vendors publish IHE integration statements to document the IHE integration profiles their products support. Users can reference the IHE integration profiles in requests for proposal, greatly simplifying the systems acquisition process.

"The Connectathon is an important step toward interoperability that will streamline the flow of clinical information across the entire healthcare continuum and speed implementation of a truly connected health system," Davis said.